Election Day 2016 May Lead to Higher Taxes On Vaping In California
Voters of California will be the ones left to decide on a controversial ballot initiative that is set to regulate the e-cigarette industry by hiking the tax on tobacco and tobacco related products.
Proposition 56 is aimed at raising the tax on tobacco products, currently at 87 cents by $2.00; If passed, electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products would have an extra $2.87 tax placed on it. The state of California has not raised the state tobacco tax since 1998, unlike other states like New York, where the tax currently sits at $4.35 a pack, according to Science World Report.
Supporters of a tax hike feel that dissuading people from smoking cigarettes is necessary, but for a state like California where the smoking rate is 12%, the second lowest in the country—a move like Prop 56 begs the question if the tax is really in the interest of public health and not for lining government pockets.
To push their agenda, Anti-smoking advocates easily push the supposed harm of e-cigarettes, arguing that vaping is creating a new generation of nicotine addicts from non-smokers.
“We’re facing a particularly alarming new public threat with the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes, especially among our youth,” Dr. Ted Maze, president of the California Medical Association noted.
But in truth, only a miniscule portion of the money raised from the proposed taxes of Proposition 56 would actually go to California’s state services that assist people in quitting smoking. $1.4 billion is the annual revenue that the state of California would receive from the increased tax, but only 13% would go towards smoking cessation programs, notes NPR.
Though early studies have suggested the vaping may have fewer health effects compared to smoking tobacco cigarettes, the FDA’s Deeming Regulations, which came into effect this past August, still state that other studies have found toxic material in e-cigarette liquid and the exhaled vapor. But, the FDA has also noted that they “…do not have sufficient data to determine what effects e-cigarettes have on public health at the population level.”
“Let people make their own choices,” Steven Greenhut, Western Region director for the R Street Institute told NPR in an interview. “Vaping is not entirely safe. But it’s pretty clear that vaping is far less harmful than smoking.”
The FDA’s Deeming Regulations forces all vaping related products to be regulated in the same manner as tobacco cigarettes and many small town local vape retailers are anticipating having to close their store within the next two years. Under the FDA’s new regulations, all vape shops and e-cigarette manufacturers across America are subject to the Pre-Market Tobacco Application for every single product that they have sold. Manufacturers and retailers have until August 8, 2018 to submit the applications, which on average will cost between $100,000 to $400,000 for each product.
“What that means is, unless something changes with those regulations that are in affect now, on August 8, 2018 this shop and 14,000 other shops across the U.S. will be closed because of the regulatory process that they have set up,” Frank Blankenship, co-owner of Lucky Ruckus Vape Shop said in an interview with KFDA. “Nobody is advocating for zero regulation. What we want is reasonable regulation and those regulations should be regulations that don’t prevent adults from accessing vaping products.”